Emfiflfllllllll Seasoned songs

Capella llova: simple but subtle

As a quick glance at the classical listings will show, there is no end of carol concerts to go to this festive season. More and more, however, are going for the Christmas atmosphere in a big way and, in addition to mince pies and mulled wine. are finding that candlelight does the trick.

Frontrunners in the candlelit concert concept are Cappclla Nova whose ‘Carols By Candlelight‘ is now such a popular feature oftheir year that they are having to increase performances. ‘We manage to achieve a nice balance of music that appeals,‘ explains director Alan Tavener. ‘and people seem to keep coming back for the atmosphere. There‘s sensitive use of lighting and candles simple but subtle - balloons. tinsel and, of course. festive refreshments. We appear from nowhere in a procession, which takes the audience by surprise. And this year, we are launching new candlesticks.’

Also new is a specially written piece by Bermuda-born composer Gabriel perfect name for a Christmas commission Jackson. ‘lt‘s one of the Christmas Day Matins‘s texts Hodie C hrisrus (.‘(lé’lUl‘lllll rex,’ says Alan Tavener. ‘and has lots of ornamental decoration, a bit like Eastern church music, which becomes an integral part.‘

Another new Christmas candlelit piece is the BT Scottish Ensemble‘s Tears Of The Angels by John Tavener. Delicate, yet extremely powerful, it has been written for the Ensemble‘s artistic director Clio Gould and uses the highest registers of the violin to create an impression of unearthly stillness. It ' is dedicated to the suffering people of the Balkans. (Carol Main)

Cappella Nova play Barony Hall. Glasgow. Thurs l 9/Fri 20 Dec;

Queen's Hall, Edinburgh. Sat 2/ Dec. BT Scottish Ensemble play Queens Hall, Edinburgh. Thurs l 9 Dec; RSAMD, Glasgow. Fri 20 Dee.

BT Scottish Ensemble: delicate yet poweriul

Justadd inader

Sonic experimentalists are ten a penny; but those who understand the value oi a good tune are iar costlier. Thank heavens, then, ior Glasgow iour-piece Mogwal (average age: 19), who can do all the usual intense, droney stuii on their guitars - and marvellous it sounds, too - but imbue them with golden, ii a little unorthodox, melodies.

Their shimmerineg good single ‘Summer’, is a case in point. But it’s an instrumental, which seems to have taken a low people aback. ‘llo one questions the Aphex Twin ior not having any words because he’s irom a dance background,’ protests guitarist

Mogwal: the cute one irom Gremlins, we believe

and occasional singer Stuart Braithwaite. ‘Just because we play guitars instead oi sequencers, i don’t see why there should be a iuss. I’m sure the novelty’ll wear oil, because I don’t plan on going all Sinatra tor the iirst album or anything.’ Mogwai’s open-ended approach shows in the way they’re starting to swap instruments during shows and the impending arrival oi drum machines and ‘electronic things’. They’ve even been asked by the Enrapture label to provide a track ior an ambient house compilation. But there’s one thing they won’t be saddled with, and that’s the ‘Io-il’ tag. Braithwaite likes studios - the more possibilities they oiier, the better - and a note on the back oi ‘Summer’ declares ‘this hi-iidelity recording should be played at 45 rpm’. Play it at any speed you like, but do play it. (Alastair Mabbott) Summer is out now on love Train Recordings.

Innnnnnnnllll Out of the blue notes

It’s not every day that you see a man screaming into a megaphone, naked irom the waist down, wielding an electric iloorsander with no concern ior his iuture Family Beneiit entitlement while his accomplices play warped records at the wrong speed on a wonky llansette. Granted, that’s a very extreme example but it holds periectly true to Cut 0i The Blue’s aim to ‘put on events which you couldn’t see anywhere else.’

But iii The Blue started out in Edinburgh in 1994 with the intent oi providing a plationn ior alternative artists to express themselves publicly, as well as iumishlng rehearsal space.

Restrictions oi space led to a move irom their original home earlier this year to new, lager premises on liew Street and it is here that but ill The Blue have made their most remarkable progress.

last Festival, Out ill The Blue put on 22 nights oi alternative artistic entertainment that put the verse into diverse, the sin into scintillating and earned them the description oi ‘The iringe oi the Fringe.’ Inspired by their successes, they are set to do it all again in a series oi iestlve ilourlshes which will be quite unlike anything also available over the ChristmaSI llogmanay celebrations.

Highlights on the musical iront (although, to be honest, the distinctions between art ionns are likely to be blurred beyond recognition) include an open night oi acoustic music; the wiliul eclecticism oi the Bongo Club; an Airo-Celt world band, La Boum and an evening oi leitiield experimentation on classical ionns ieaturlng a variety oi local groups, including Dominic Waxing lyrical and Mr McFall’s Chamber Group. Entitled ‘llone iii The Above’, all oi the night’s perionners have an innovative approach to pushing back the boundaries oi what is perceived as music. I

It, to put it bluntly, this all sounds as though it’s likely to vanish up its own arse in an artyiart oi po-iaced pomposity then it won’t. You’re unlikely to iind a more relaxed time while staying on the right side oi the law and remember the naked iloorsander man: art can be iunny. (Jonathan Trew)

For full listlngs see Rock, Classical, Felt, World and Clubs listings.

nun-IIIIIIII Chure favourHEe

Jazz singing remains a problematic an. but one which has clearly not lost its attraction for singers intrigued by its challenges. The current decade has been a good one for singers on the UK jazz scene, with Carol Kidd producing the best work of her career, and a still increasing wave of younger singers stepping up to show what they can do, led by Claire Martin and Tina May.

Claire Martin’s four albums for Linn Records have revealed an increasing sophistication running through her work, and she has now developed a genuinely empathic relationship with her regular instrumental trio, featuring Gareth Williams (piano). Arnie Somogyi (bass) and Clark Tracey (drums). Her entry into jazz, however, was not entirely planned.

’l went to a stage school as a kid. where I did tap, ballet, acrobatics, all kinds of things, but singing was a big part of it, and that was the way I finally decided to go. Well, let‘s face it, can you imagine me ballet dancing? I knew I wanted to do something creative, but can‘t really say I had a burning desire to sing jazz at that point, and it really found me more than the other way around.’

Once launched on the jazz route, her word-of—mouth reputation was already travelling north by the time she made a stunning debut opening for Tony Bennett in front ofa full house at the Glasgow lntemational Jazz Festival in I992, and carried it off with the assurance of a veteran performer.

‘l'm usually pretty confident on stage, especially with my own trio. I listen to a lot of other music as well, but believe that jazz is what suits my voice best, and also maybe stretches my intellect the most as well. I wouldn't necessarily turn down work with a pop band I really liked, if the right offer came along, but jazz is the music I love, and especially the freedom of improvising and doing it differently every night.’ (Kenny Mathieson)

Claire Martin and Her Trio play The Tron Jazz Cellar: Edinburgh, Sun 15; Bourbon Street, Glasgow, Mon l6/Tue I7.

Claim Hartlm on the best stretch

48 The List 13 Dec 1996-9 Jan I997